RENTON — The Seahawks held the last of their 10 OTAs (organized team activities) of the spring last week.
Now they head into the summer with players on break until the first training camp practice, which is expected to be July 27.
As they do, it’s time to review some of the key questions that emerged over the past few months with a special offseason edition of Four Downs with Seahawks beat writers Bob Condotta and Adam Jude.
1. What have we learned about the quarterback competition? And what are the chances of the Seahawks bringing in another veteran QB this summer?
Condotta: Due in part to the limitations of the offseason program — no pads, no contact — I’m not really sure we’ve learned much of anything yet. Geno Smith entered the offseason atop the depth chart due to his knowledge of the offense and is still there heading into training camp. The real competition doesn’t start until training camp. Any other move the Seahawks might make to add to the QB spot probably won’t come until then, either. Will the Browns really cut Baker Mayfield or will the 49ers really release Jimmy Garoppolo? If so, then let the speculation really begin. But neither is likely to happen until camps begin (the earliest they can is July 26). If either becomes realistically available — meaning, Seattle not having to give up anything to get either and not paying a whole lot — then yeah, the Seahawks will consider it. Otherwise, every indication is Seattle will roll with Smith and Drew Lock as camp begins.
Jude: There wasn’t anything particularly revelatory about the QBs during these spring workouts; it’s difficult to glean much when players are not in full pads and when defensive players are strictly limited on what they can and can’t do. That said, there was obvious intrigue about Lock in his first extended reps on the Seahawks practice field, and he certainly looks the part — big frame, big arm, nimble enough in the pocket. The real competition kicks off at training camp, and most observers expect Lock to make a serious run at the starting job. Limiting turnovers will have to be paramount for him to do so.
2. Outside of QB, what position battle most intrigues you heading into training camp?
Jude: The competition at outside cornerback appears wide open. Sidney Jones, the former UW standout, has been holding down the left-side cornerback spot with the No. 1 defense, and veteran free-agent addition Artie Burns has been a pleasant surprise. But watch out for rookies Coby Bryant and Tariq Woolen. Both made strong early impressions on coaches and veteran teammates alike, and no one should be surprised if one (or even both) emerges as a starter in 2022 — perhaps as early as Week 1.
Condotta: Offensive line. Four spots seem set — left tackle Charles Cross, left guard Damien Lewis, center Austin Blythe and right guard Gabe Jackson, assuming there are no roadblocks in his recovery from offseason knee surgery. Phil Haynes filled in for Jackson through the offseason program and likely would take that spot if Jackson’s recovery is delayed. That leaves right tackle, which entering camp appears to be a three-man race between third-round pick Abraham Lucas and second-year players Jake Curhan and Stone Forsythe. The best-case long-term scenario for Seattle is probably that Lucas wins the job and validates being taken 72nd overall. But nothing is likely decided until deep into the preseason.
3. There was a pretty dramatic overhaul of the defense this offseason. What was the most significant development you saw on defense this spring?
Jude: The return of star safeties Quandre Diggs and Jamal Adams. If the Seahawks expect to have a top-10 defense this season — and that, no doubt, is Pete Carroll’s aim with all the offseason changes — then they have to have Diggs and Adams at full strength. Neither one is quite there yet health-wise after both spent the offseason rehabbing from major surgeries, but they’re close — and their presence on the field this spring had to be a most welcoming sight for a franchise that lost two of its most respected locker-room leaders in Bobby Wagner and Russell Wilson.
Condotta: To me, it was the emphasis on being faster and more athletic, especially with the edge rushers and linebackers. Seahawks fans rightly lament that Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright aren’t around anymore at the two ILB spots. But the Seahawks love the speed of the two guys there now, Jordyn Brooks and Cody Barton, each 25 years or younger. And the makeover at the edge rusher spots with more “speed rushers” and fewer “power rushers” was noticeable. The younger players obviously still have a lot to learn; and for the rookies up front, the game will change when the pads go on. But initially, the speed showed up, impressing Carroll, who said, “I’m going to tell you, this might be the fastest team we’ve ever had, this team can fly.”
4. How concerned should folks be about DK Metcalf’s absence from these spring workouts?
Jude: Metcalf says he wants to get a deal done with the Seahawks. The team says they want to get a deal done with their star receiver. So, yeah, the deal ought to get done. Of course, it’s not quite that simple, and the exploding market for wide receiver salaries does add further complication from the Seahawks’ perspective. But you have to think both sides will be motivated to get a deal done by the start of training camp, because it’s not a pretty scene to imagine what this Seahawks offense would look like without Metcalf in it.
Condotta: That Metcalf decided to skip minicamp after having attended some of the earlier voluntary parts of the offseason program, a move that surprised the team some, shows that maybe this won’t be as easy as everyone hoped. But the Seahawks have been down this road often. And it can be argued that in every case of a player the team really wanted to keep, the Seahawks under Carroll and John Schneider have gotten it done. Metcalf is just 24 and the kind of player to build around and as Adam notes, it’s hard to imagine the offense without him in it, especially as it now navigates the post-Wilson era. The drama might linger all summer but it should end by fall.